I like Palm Sunday because it is the only day in the liturgical calendar where you get toys to play with during the service.
Oh, they look like mere palm fronds, but really – anything you can use for arts and crafts is a toy.
One of the many useless skills I have acquired in my life (along with writing in elvish script, keeping score in Roman numerals, and the ability to run backwards at speed) is knowing how to make a cross out of palm fronds. Back in the day we used to do that to pass the time during and after Palm Sunday services, and if we were really feeling crafty we’d carefully peel off a long fiber from another frond and turn the whole thing into a necklace.
Of course, once you have these things you’re kind of stuck with them. They dry up and turn brown and crackly but are you just going to throw them out? It seems sort of disrespectful. I suppose you could burn them – that’s what they do with the other leftover palms, after all, in order to get the ashes for Ash Wednesday. Or is that Maundy Thursday? Or Maudlin Thursday? Hard to keep them all straight sometimes.
No, wait, Maudlin Thursday is something completely different and involves rather more wine than your average Communion. Never mind then.
We went to church today and duly received our fronds. And then we went to a local bistro where we had a very nice brunch and I spent the time making crosses.
This is how you do it.
First, you need the proper materials.
Select a palm frond that is reasonably flexible and not dried out. You may want to peel off the stiff edges if they are too rigid, but if they bend well then you don’t have to.
Cut off two more or less equal pieces. They can be of any length depending on how dexterous you feel, but six to eight inches is a good working length for each piece, especially if you’re just starting out.
Now, you have to lock the pieces together.
Take the two pieces and form them into an “L” with the horizontal piece in front of the vertical piece – if the pieces have a noticeable taper to them, place the wide ends at the join and let them taper out from there.
Fold up from the bottom once. The bottom piece should now be completely covered at the join by the top piece.
Fold up from the bottom a second time, just as before.
Hold the L so that the horizontal piece extends to the right. Take the horizontal piece and fold it around to the rear so that it now extends to the left.
Take the horizontal piece and poke it through the gap in the join so that it extends to the right again. Pull it tight so that it locks. You should be able to wave the L around without it falling apart at this point.
From here it is just making the cross itself.
Take the horizontal piece and fold it back through the join such that you have a loop on one side and a straight piece about twice that long sticking out of the other side.
Fold the straight piece back to the join. You have now made the crosspiece of the cross.
Take the vertical piece and fold it down through the join so that it makes a loop at the top about the same size as the other two loops. Leave the other end straight.
Now you’ve got your cross.
And you’ve made it nearly a quarter of the way through Palm Sunday services! Find three more palm fronds and repeat as necessary, until crosses are complete or the service ends, whichever comes first.